1/17/2018 — 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to rebuild and modernize public schools, boost student achievement, and grow the nation’s economy, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who both serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, are leading a bipartisan effort to urge President Trump to create a federal-state partnership to invest in the infrastructure of the nation’s public schools. 

The Senators say public schools are essential to the fabric of our communities and investing in 21st Century schools should be a key piece of a bipartisan infrastructure proposal. 

In a bipartisan letter sent to the White House today, Reed, Murkowski, and 23 of their Senate colleagues note: “safe, healthy, modern, well-equipped schools are essential for advancing student achievement and for ensuring that the next generation can achieve the American Dream and meet the economic, social, environmental, and global challenges our nation faces.”

Reed has introduced the School Building Improvement Act (S. 1674), which would help provide $100 billion in federal grants and school construction bonds over the next decade to help build and renovate schools.  By providing states with grants and low-cost bonds to meet their school construction and modernization needs, the bill would help strengthen communities and create an estimated 1.8 million jobs, while also laying the foundation for better schools, smart growth, and a brighter future.  Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representative by Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

In their letter to President Trump, the lawmakers state: “the federal government should consider partnering with states on innovative financing mechanisms to help every community ensure their schools are safe, healthy, and modern, particularly in low-income and rural school districts where the need is often most profound.  This is the right thing to do for students, educators, and communities.  It is also a smart investment, since it will give a needed boost to our economy by creating local jobs in every community across the country.  According to a recent economic analysis, every $1 billion dollars invested in construction creates nearly 18,000 jobs. That means, for example, that a federal investment in school infrastructure of $100 billion would yield an estimated 1.8 million jobs.”

The full text of the letter follows:

January 17, 2018

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Improving our nation’s physical infrastructure is the linchpin for growing our economy, securing our communities, and ensuring that we remain competitive globally.  Our nation’s public schools are critical infrastructure.  They are key facilities in almost every community, essential to a competitive economy, and are often one of the largest investments state and local governments make.

Indeed, safe, healthy, modern, well-equipped schools are essential for advancing student achievement and for ensuring that the next generation can achieve the American Dream and meet the economic, social, environmental, and global challenges our nation faces.  Yet, too many of the over 50 million students and six million staff who learn and work in our public schools spend their days in facilities that fail to make the grade.  A 2014 Department of Education study estimated that it would cost $197 billion to bring all public schools into “good” condition.  An independent review, the 2016 State of Our Schools report, estimates that we underfund capital investments in our school buildings by $38 billion per year.

To address this crisis, the federal government should consider partnering with states on innovative financing mechanisms to help every community ensure their schools are safe, healthy, and modern, particularly in low-income and rural school districts where the need is often most profound.  This is the right thing to do for students, educators, and communities.  It is also a smart investment, since it will give a needed boost to our economy by creating local jobs in every community across the country.  According to a recent economic analysis, every $1 billion dollars invested in construction creates nearly 18,000 jobs. That means, for example, that a federal investment in school infrastructure of $100 billion would yield an estimated 1.8 million jobs.

We believe this investment is an essential piece of a national infrastructure plan and stand ready work to with you to make sure it is a feature of any comprehensive infrastructure bill that makes it to your desk. 

Sincerely,

Jack Reed
Lisa Murkowski
Sherrod Brown
Sheldon Whitehouse
Patty Murray
Chris Van Hollen
Margaret Wood Hassan
Cory A. Booker
Bob Casey
Ron Wyden
Dianne Feinstein
Richard Blumenthal
Benjamin L. Cardin
Kirsten Gillibrand
Maize K. Hirono
Catherine Cortez Masto
Elizabeth Warren
Tina Smith
Christopher A. Coons
Edward J. Markey
Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Duckworth
Michael Bennet
Amy Klobuchar
Patrick Leahy

A pdf file of the letter can be viewed here: School Infrastructure Letter